Persecution Of Reformers


More than twenty years have passed since the terrible Second World War ended. Much has been spoken and written about that time. In several places memorials have been erected as a reminder of those inexpressible sufferings. In that time of great apostasy when the fury of war did its destructive work and the god of war was worshiped and glorified by nominal Christians, there were still people who had the courage to acknowledge Jesus as their Lord. They knew that salvation could be found in only One--Jesus Christ. Through love for their Lord they fulfilled His will; they "loved not their lives unto death" and courageously stood firm for their precious faith. Faith is proven in times of testing. Thus the period under the ruler-ship of the swastika was also a hard test for God's people. The purpose of the Reformation has always been to educate soldiers under the cross. During that trial of World War II, these soldiers of Christ proved themselves victorious - faithful unto death.  The older generation is dying out; a new one arises. Therefore it is fitting to publish this book as a memorial to the faithful witnesses of the Reformation. It expresses the thanks, which the Reform Movement among the Advent people still offers today to those who held fast to their faith in spite of inexpressible 

sufferings  and martyrdom and sealed their resistance against diabolical powers with their blood.

These witnesses represent the true nobility of the world, its royal line. The youth of today are called to perpetuate that line of champions under the cross.  It is our aim to bring together in this book of remembrance such witnesses who gave their lives in prisons and concentration camps during World War II. Yet, these are certainly not the only martyrs; in addition to them there are many, many more who suffered hardship and persecution under the rule of National Socialism. Also, little is included about those who experienced the deprivations and sufferings of 

imprisonment and concentration camps without losing their lives.  It can be said of some of these that they were saved from certain death by a miracle of God. A number of these survivors lived in close association with the martyrs and suffered much for Jesus' sake.  However, in this memorial book we will become acquainted only with those who lost their lives because of their sufferings or who were murdered--those who died a martyr's death. This was the end of their faith!  We pray that these examples may bear fruit among us, for God Himself looks with great pleasure on His faithful martyrs. He loved the Christians who lived in those dangerous times, because they were willing to suffer and die for His sake. The reports and letters of these faithful witnesses come from a variety of sources: Original letters, newspaper clippings, and official and private collections of materials. To the brethren and sisters who have contributed to the collection of these documents and reports and kindly made them available to us we give our heartfelt thanks.  This "song of songs" of the courageous men and women who remained sober in a time of greatest mass hysteria, and who possessed the courage to live out their faith, is in direct contrast to the millions of Christians who failed shamefully in that time of provocation. It is necessary for the sake of the present and future historical challenge to Christians for them to know that a small percentage of their fellow believers did a great thing. It is this hindsight that offers an opportunity for all to become wise; but this requires that we examine our own ways and direct them according to God's Word. In spite of all the shocking details, this collection is designed to encourage old and young so that they may emerge as victors in the present as well as the future conflicts.

This publication is of special importance now,for today we fight a completely different kind of battle. From that time to our own day, many a hand has become feeble, many a banner which had been kept aloft through united efforts has been conquered by the enemy and buried in the dust. And yet the pure, holy gospel still lives and is preached in all parts of the world; these martyrs saw with the eye of faith that the battle of the church is not in vain. This battle would have been in vain if the church were content to lead a complacent life after such a time of trial and persecution. Therefore we cannot betray these faithful witnesses by choosing a easier way; we are called to take up the work and continue it where these champions were forced to lay it down. This book's purpose is to point withunmistakable clarity to the fact that the battle of the church concerns only the confession of Jesus Christ, the one Lord and King of kings, and that the church surrenders when the confession of Jesus Christ and his sacred truth is no longer its highest goal. Thus we present this book to all churches in the hope that through the life and death testimonies of the people mentioned here the Lord Himself will speak to His church, remind them of their commission, and fill them with new confidence and strength in the present battle of faith.

The Witnesses of the Reformation

Gustav Psyrembel

executed on March 30, 1940, in Berlin

Robert Freier

imprisoned and murdered in 1940

Leander Zrenner

 shot on August 9, 1941, at Brandenburg / Havel 


imprisoned in 1941, when 70 years old - declared dead in prison at Breslau

Willy Thaumann

 shot to death in 1941 in the concentration camp at Oranienburg 

Salamon Sadowski

 shot to death by the SS in 1942, at 35 years of age

Maria Maritschnig

died in the Auschwitz concentration camp on September 25, 1942, at the age of 58


 sentenced to death by a military tribunal 

Johann Hanselmann

killed in the concentration camp at Sachsenhausen in 1942, at the age of 50

Anton Brugger

beheaded in Berlin in 1943 at the ate of 32


tortured to death in a concentration camp in 1943 when 51 years old

Victor Pacha

 shot to death at halle/Saale on September 27, 1943, at 26 years of age

Guenther Pietz

 shot to death at halle/Saale on September 27, 1943, at 19 years of age


murdered in the concentration camp at mauthausen in 1943, when 50 years old 

Stanislav Rohloff 

tortured to death in the concentration camp at Mauthausen in 1944, when 51 years old

Tomasz Slachetka

tortured to death in the concentration camp at Mauthausen in 1944, when 44 years old 

Aleksy Slachetka

died on prisoner transport to Dacau in 1944, at 21 years of age

Gottlieb Metzner

imprisoned on October 19, 1944, and later murdered, after having been inOldenburger concentration camp for half a year in 1934.

Ernst Koerner

tortured to death in the concentration camp at Sachsenhausen in 1944

Dr Alfred Zeiss

lost his life in a concentration camp

Alfred Muench

died in the concentration camp at Neuengamme in 1945

Heroes of Faith in Our Time

"Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles." Matthew 10:16-18.

All through the ages, denial and persecution have been the fate of Christianity. This was the experience of the Master and Founder of Christianity, and therefore we should not wonder when the disciples and true followers of Christ make the same experience. "It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more of them of his household?" Thus we also of the Seventh-day Adventist Reform Movement have made many an experience, especially during the time from 1930 to 1945, about which we want to testify and report. The purpose of this testimony is to honour Him who went before us in the battle of faith as the herald of our salvation. It should also serve as an encouragement for us to follow in the footsteps of those who suffered imprisonment, shame and death rather than conform to the powers of darkness by taking the easier way and thereby denying Christ. As it was in the days of the Apostle Paul, so also in our time there are faithful soldiers of the cross of whom it is written: "But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions; Partly, whilst ye were made a gazing stock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used. For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and enduring substance." Heb. 10:32-34.

The Battle between Light and Darkness

The above text says: “After ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions." This means the soul that is born again - the soul that is revived through the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit - knows how to value the everlasting, divine truth; he is not willing to sacrifice or deny the truth for anything the world can offer. Thus the battle of faith begins as soon as man becomes acquainted with the pure truth. It leads instantly to a conflict between him and members of the immediate family, relatives, and friends who are worldly-minded, as well as with nominal Christians and authorities. (Matthew 10:34-39; John 18:36,37.)  This was the experience of the "heroes of the cross," as you will see in the following pages.  Shortly after the rise of the Nazi regime in Germany, we as a church felt the pressure of persecution. As early as 1939, religious meetings were prohibited in Brieg County.

Gottlieb Metzner

About this time, Brother Gottlieb Metzner was very active as a witness for the last Reformation message. Through his activities, sincere and faithful souls came to the truth.  Among them were our dear and courageous defender of the faith, Gustav Psyrembel, one of the first to die as a witness for the S.D.A Reform Movement; and dear Sister Kiefer, whose husband raged terribly and ran with an axe into Brother Metzner's house in an attempt to kill him. Sister Kiefer was arrested on a Sabbath, put into prison, and mistreated; yet no force was able to prevent her from accepting the truth and sealing her faith in baptism. As a result of this, Brother Metzner had to suffer again; he was transported as early as 1944 to the Esterwegen concentration camp near Osnabrueck. The fact that Brother Metzner had a large family to provide for as well as other factors may have contributed to his release after half a year.  During his absence, his four school-age children had been brought to school by the police, his house was searched, and the family was continually fined, putting a heavy burden upon the meager income from the small farm.  When these methods of oppression failed to discourage Brother and Sister Metzner and they remained faithful to the truth, Brother Metzner was taken in for questioning many times. All their children were taken away from the parents' home and place elsewhere to be educated. They were away from the family home from 1939 to 1945, and their only son never returned. Such a tragedy only a mother's heart can comprehend. Only when the dictatorial system broke down in 1945 - a system which was guilty of such cruelties - did the mother recover her three daughters through the wonderful leading of God. However, their father, who had already suffered years of imprisonment and fines, never returned to his home. He had been taken away on October 19, 1944, and brought to the state secret police at Breslau.  There a letter was laid before him, the content being that he would forsake his "crazy faith."  He was assured that after he signed it his four children would immediately be permitted to return home. As the police officer who was present reported later, brother Metzner answered that he had believed the truths of God's Word for many years, and now that he saw everything fulfilled and saw the complete breakdown of the socialists, he could not and would not recant his faith and deny his God. That is the last testimony we have of Brother Metzner. Lonely, deserted, misunderstood, persecuted, and separated from his family for whom he had faithfully worked, cared, and fought, this witness for Christ stood "faithful until death."  In the experiences of all these heroes of faith, the word of God is fulfilled in each individual: "Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried;... be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." Rev. 2:10.

Up to this very day, Brother Metzner's wife, children and grand-children have fought the good battle of faith for which their father gave his life. May his example serve to strengthen us as we read the words of the Apostle Paul:"...Whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation." Hebrews 13:7.

Testimony before Rulers and Courts

"And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for My sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles." 

Matthew 10:18.

Brother Metzner, of whom we have already written, was instrumental in bringing a young man from Karlsmark, Brieg County, in contact with the Reform Movement. This was during the time when the totalitarian power of the state in Germany rose and the military machine required every German citizen to take a positive stand in defense of the fatherland. As a result, this young Brother Gustav Psyrembel was soon called for military service. When the draft call came, he had not been married very long. Brother Psyrembel refused to perform this military duty, because of his belief in the gospel of peace which Christ gave. He declared in short and clear terms that he refused to participate in any military training for the war effort, because it is irreconcilable with the spirit of the gospel according to the Sermon on the Mount given by Christ. He was fully convicted that all people who believe this gospel are bound into one international body and their main task is "to seek and to save that which is lost." Therefore, with those of like faith, he could not conscientiously agree to participate in the blood-stained warfare of nations and all that was connected with war.  He was arrested, and after fruitless efforts were made to change his mind, he was brought before the Military Court at Berlin. On this occasion he was told that he was to account for his actions before a military court, not before a church council. They tried to convince him that every man should be subject to and obey the government. But Brother Psyrembel testified courageously that the kingdom of God is not of this world and that therefore the followers of Christ cannot fight for worldly kingdoms. (John 18:36.) Then a lengthy letter from a minister of the Seventh-day Adventist Church was laid before him, and this recommended the defense of the fatherland as Christian duty. But the young man, standing alone before a high war tribunal – betrayed by the ministers of the Adventist Church who claimed he had erroneous views – declared firmly that he could not serve two masters.  Only an apostate Christendom attempts to preach such a false gospel, holding the Bible in one hand and the sword in the other. As a result, such Christendom does not have the power of godliness but only a pretense.  Thus our young Brother Psyrembel was condemned to death by the court. In a detailed letter to his wife, he pictured how it hurt him that an Adventist minister in a letter to the court had betrayed him and placed his stand in such a false light. But even this betrayal could not discourage him. In a lonely prison cell he waited for the day of the execution of his sentence. What was in the heart and mind of this soldier of the cross during those days and hours only the Lord knows.


Gustav Psyrembel 

G. Psyrembel Prison B, No. 4378 Section  A1 Z5 Berlin NW 40, March 5, 1940 

Dear Mama...! God's peace as greetings! Again I want to show some sign of life and send you a few lines. I would have written sooner, but I wanted to wait for my term to expire so I could tell you more about it. The decision has been made, and I hope that you...have prepared yourself for this hour.... Dear Mama, I reported to you in my last letter that I stood at the beginning of the term. Today I can tell you that I now have that behind me. It was short, and all went quietly, for I did not allow myself to have any false hope and was prepared for the worst. For me there were only two things I could do – either confess my faith or deny it. Right at the start I was told that I was not appearing before a church council, which would decide religious questions but before a war tribunal. The motives for my action and conviction were regarded as wrong and were rejected. Only the offence and the deed were considered: My withdrawal from military service; the refusal to use weapons; the refusal to swear allegiance to the German flag and make the German salute. The most serious offence is the refusal to swear allegiance to the flag; this carries the death sentence. I had a lawyer to defend me, who asked for a life sentence, but this was rejected and I was given the death sentence… Dear Mama, when you receive these lines, I will no longer be in the land of the living, because my execution will take place in the next few days; and then my soul will rest in peace. Trust in the Lord in all circumstances of life. He will help you to bear the duties and burdens that will now rest upon your shoulders. Do it in love and faith in Him; endure until the end so that we shall see each other again in that better land, in the city built of gold where all pain and suffering will be ended. Farewell! We go through suffering to glory. Once again many greetings. 

Your Gustav

Another letter arrived, and it read as follows:

G.Psyrembel  Prison B, No. 4378Berlin NW 40, March 12, 1940

My dear Mama…! The peace of the Lord be with you.

I would like to take advantage of an opportunity to write you a few lines, because every new day that dawns may be the last one for me… Therefore we will not yield in the hour of decision, for this is the right way and the truth. It is His work, and He will not let it perish. It is very regrettable when many of our fellow believers stray from the right way, leave our Leader and banner, fall away from Him, begin to doubt His divine love and guidance, and thus grieve Him. Some day they will bitterly regret it and acknowledge their wrong, but then it will perhaps be forever too late and there will be no help or salvation. They do not realize that they betray those who hold fast to God and make their battle unspeakably heavy. When a case such as mine comes before the war tribunal, they say: "The others are all convinced that they are doing their duty and do not violate their conscience and God's commandments; why can't you do the same?" It is very, very hard in such a case to defend the truth, to explain this stand to the authorities and say that we cannot do otherwise. Another reproach came upon me because of my "unteachability" and

 "stubbornness." These apostatized Adventists,

especially the ministers, have managed to 

deceive the people. Through their false representations of the truth, they declare us as the criminals and the deceived ones. It is not enough that they avoid conflict and try to sail around the difficulties, but they also attempt to justify their wrong actions through words and examples from the Scriptures that are not at all applicable. These words I have seen in the long, seven-page letter of the minister, and these statements are supposedly confirmed by the Testimonies. But all this should not shake us. Truth remains truth, and what is right will remain right; and the future will reveal on which side it can be found.….In the faith that there is a reunion, I will now close. The Lord be with you. Receive my many cordial greetings and kisses from deeply loving Papa. Best greetings to all those who always think of me.

On March 29, 1940, Brother Psyrembel wrote his final letter to his wife and child. It reads as follows:

Greetings with  2 Corinthians 4:16-18. I have just learned that tomorrow, the 30th , at 5:00, I am to be executed. Once again I had the opportunity to strengthen myself with the Word of God for this last journey. The New Testament was brought for me to read. (But I got less food to eat.) The portions of bread are much smaller here, and in general everything is much stricter, than at Ploetzensee; but I have borne everything gladly and patiently, for I know for Whom I do all these things and I am not the first and only one to receive this fate. The Lord says: "Rejoice, and be exceeding  glad, for great is your reward in heaven." "Lift up your heads, for your redemption draweth nigh." These words and precious promises are what keep us going in our heavy but wonderful battle. The Lord has promised His power and protection, and He is also prepared to grant it to His children when they are in need of it. I have experienced this in all the years of my battle up to this very hour. The Lord be thanked and praised! He has kept me healthy in body and soul and has given me His joy and love in a rich measure. He will not leave me in the last hour. We shall not be sad, but happy, and regard it a privilege to suffer and die for His sake. "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." He has promised, and with faith in this power and salvation I will depart from this life in the hope, my dear ones, that we shall see each other again in His kingdom, to be forever with Him who has loved us until death and has always had good intentions toward us. There we will live in the undisturbed and inseparable happiness and peace for which we have longed so much here. We shall be as such that dream and will hardly be able to comprehend the happiness that will be the portion of us sinful, unworthy creatures, who have deserved death and punishment. What a precious privilege it is to know and believe all this. And you, dear Mama, do not permit this precious treasure ever to be taken from you; trust in the Lord in all your circumstances of life, and He will be at your side and never leave you; overcome the pain and finish the race; be comforted and of good cheer. "I would not give up this faith for all the world." He who loves Christ can never leave Him. The Lord will grant success to all His children who make such efforts to keep His commandments. It will also be a comfort to you that I will be dead before I am buried, and will not be buried alive. I hope that the Lord will sustain you. May He bless and keep you; may He let His protection and grace be over you and grant you His peace is my last wish and prayer. Amen. Once again, and for the last time, very heartfelt greetings from your dear Papa. Best  greetings also to Mother and all our dear brothers and sisters in the faith, as well as all our relatives on both your side and mine. 

Gustav Psyrembel 

This last testimony of faith from this courageous soldier of the cross proves how the power of God's Spirit has overcome the world according to His word: "For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." 1 John 5:4.In the midst of a worldly Christendom which has deliberately involved itself in war and bloodshed as well as political battles among the nations during many ages – and today, in our enlightened age as this same apostate Christendom gives a shameful testimony before other religious confessions through their mutual slaughter – we deem it a privilege to report the upholding of the pure gospel by our faithful Brother Gustav Psyrembel, who testified for Christ and a better world. This hero of faith without boasting could also say with the apostle Paul: "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing."  His last farewell letter shows us that the Spirit of the Lord had lifted his thoughts above all deprivations, suffering and need. His eye was directed upward, far above a world that was in conflict with God. He possessed the peaceful certainty that "whomsoever takes the sword shall perish by the sword," a fact which was fulfilled literally in history in 1945, five years after his death. The cities and places where he was led into prison for his faith – where the military court sentenced him to death and where his blood was shed – were destroyed by a devastating hail of bombs, by the symbol of force, the sword; blood and tears were their harvest. As it is written: "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."  How many of these fearful things this soldier of the cross was spared through his faithfulness unto death for His Lord and Redeemer! In his last spiritual thought, his eye of faith looked upon the glory of Christ's kingdom after this season of suffering so that he could write: "We shall not be sad, but happy; and regard it a privilege to suffer and die for His sake… With faith in this power and salvation, I will depart from this life in the hope, my dear ones, that we shall see each other again in His kingdom, to be forever with Him who has loved us until death and has always had good intentions toward us. There we will live in the undisturbed and inseparable happiness and peace for which we have longed so much here." In this spirit which caused him to rise high above all things temporary in the face of death he will also be resurrected when Christ comes again, to partake of His everlasting kingdom. Therefore, all followers of Christ, "Whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.”

"The Good Shepherd Lays Down His Life For The Sheep." 


In times of oppression and testing of faith, the task of spiritual leaders and shepherds of the flock consists of going courageously before the sheep. Every shepherd should be aware of the fact that he is watched closely, especially by earthly powers, whether they be regents or authorities or governments, because his behaviour has a definite influence on many people, mainly on those who have been entrusted to his care. As it is said, "Smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered." 

Zechariah 13:7.

Christian church history shows that there are irreconcilable contrasts between heavenly and earthly powers, between light and darkness. As a result of this, it has always been evident that legal requirements of earthly powers which stand in contradiction to the teachings of Christ as taught by faithful shepherds are declared void with the words, "…We ought to obey God rather than men." 

Acts 5:29. And it is for just this reason that the shepherds are the first ones to be persecuted, 

imprisoned, and executed by worldly governments. This was so in the days of the apostle Paul, when, without exception, leaders were persecuted and killed; it was likewise under the heathen Roman Caesars. And in the decisive battle between the Roman state religion and Christianity, the attack of Diocletian in A.D. 303 was directed first against all clergymen. "The destruction of the church of  Nicomedia (February 23, 303) was the signal for the attack. The next day the Caesar's edict was published. All Christian officers were dismissed from the army, and all Christian officials were released from government service. Immediately a second edict was given that all ministers were to be cast into prison and forced to sacrifice… All Christian churches were to be destroyed, and all sacred books of the Christians were to be burned."

 (Church History, S. Rohm, p. 14, §6).

As a result of the union of church and state in the days of Constantine I, the apostatized church came under the protection of the earthly powers. Persecution ceased, because the leading clergy finally adapted themselves to the powers of darkness and became unfaithful to their shepherd's duty in exchange for earthly privileges and rights. In later times, especially in the Middle Ages, the power of the state, under the prodding of popes and prelates, was misused to persecute mainly Bible believers such as Huss, Luther, Calvin and others, declaring them to be heretics. Innumerable faithful 

Christians were condemned by the tribunals of the Inquisition and were delivered to death by the arm of the state.  Apostatized ministers accused the loyal shepherds, who went before their flocks as courageous Reformers in the faith, of wanting to shine through a self-imposed martyrdom in order to draw the people's attention to themselves, and this of course would be only spiritual pride. In this way they attempted to slander the faithful ones who risked all they possessed as well as liberty and life to set a true example for the gospel's sake. And because there is nothing new under the sun, we should not wonder when the same thing occurs in our day.

Heroes of Faith under the Third Angel's Message

"To stand in defense of truth and righteousness when the majority forsake us, to fight the battles of the Lord when champions are few – this will be our test. At this time we must  gather warmth from the coldness of others, courage from their cowardice, and loyalty from their treason." 

–Testimonies Vol. 5, p. 136.

–The prophecy of Revelation 11:18 and

 Early Writings p. 41 

was fulfilled during the conflict of the angry nations. In World War I, the angel of the church of Laodicea denied

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present truth insofar that the leading men of the Seventh-day Adventists, before all the world, called upon the believers in Europe to "…bind themselves together in these times of stress in defense of the Fatherland, and under these circumstances we will also bear arms on Saturday (Sabbath)."In doing this, the unfaithful shepherds exchanged spiritual armour for weapons of the flesh and sought to hold the Bible in one hand and the bare sword for the shedding of blood in the other, thus partaking in the self-destruction of apostate Christendom. The result of this treason against the gospel of peace and the flock entrusted to them by Christ was revealed in their own words; 98 per cent of the Adventist denomination was affected by this apostasy.  And this denial of the present truth was sanctioned by the highest leadership in 1920 with the following words: "We believe that you are completely in error concerning your position on this question… What would you have said concerning Moses a few days after he received the law upon Sinai if he had told you to go and kill the King of Bashan and all the men, women and children? Would you have accused him of being a murderer? But God had commanded him to transgress the sixth commandment."

 ( Protocol of Friedensau, p. 59)

The first sentence of the above quotation claims that those who refused to participate in the First World War were in error because they refused to take part in the slaughter of the people, the destruction of towns and villages, and all the unrighteousness connected with these things. They were accused of fanaticism and were call the apostasy movements.

(Protocol, pp. 61, 62) 

However, nothing can be found written in the Protocol of Friedensau about what trials many a faithful fighter for truth endured with deep suffering during these four years under the persecution of warring authorities and finally because of the betrayal of unfaithful shepherds who courted the favour and sympathy of worldly state powers. To the contrary, in 1918, it was declared publicly in a newspaper, "These unprofitable elements set themselves up as preachers, and, with small results, made propaganda for their foolish ideas.  They call themselves falsely preachers and Adventists; they are not; they are deceivers.  When such elements shall receive their merited punishment, we will regard it, in fact, as a favour done toward us…"In this book we wish to remember our heroes of the third angel's message with thankfulness, for through their unshakable loyalty in the midst of cowardice and treason, surrounded by many difficulties from inside and out, the Seventh-day Adventist Reform Movement was founded. The experiences they made in times of war and persecution led to their giving a clear testimony before the authorities in World War II, as a witness against these authorities and the nations.

Report of the Experiences of the Seventh-Day Adventist Reform Movement Before And After World War 2

In the years 1919-1926 / 27, the central office of the Seventh-day Adventist Reform Movement in Germany was moved to Isernhagen, near Hannover. The work progressed everywhere, in Germany as well as abroad. But when the totalitarian regime of the National Socialists came to power in 1933, a difficult time again began for the believers. The required 

co-ordination in the service of earthly and national interests presented to us many decisive conscientious problems. The leading men of the Seventh-day Adventist Reform Movement in Germany as well as in other countries were convinced, 

mostly because of personal experiences and battles of faith during World War I, that on the basis of the Bible and the Testimonies we cannot at any time participate in political struggles or national or international quarrels. Therefore it was not long before principally the leading men in Germany were called to testify before party bosses and organs of the state government. Because of the unmerciful election propaganda and the pressure to take part in and become

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members of the party, etc., all under the symbol of the sun wheel, hardly anyone was spared from showing his colours.  For many Adventists, the time had come – they would now have a foretaste of the future struggles of which time one testimony says: "It is in the time of conflict that the true colours should be flung to the breeze. It is then that the standard-bearers need to be firm and let their true position be known. It is then that the skill of every true soldier for the right is tested. Shirkers can never wear the laurels of victory. Those who are true and loyal will not conceal the fact, but will put heart and might into the work, and venture their all in the struggle, let the battle turn as it will." – 

Testimonies Vol. 3, p. 272.

Our elder brother in Christ, Otto Welp, who in the First World War had suffered for years of persecution for his faith, was one of the first leaders to give a clear testimony that we could not take part in politics, nor in direct or indirect military service, because the teachings of Christ forbid this and the believers were to be instructed along this line. Everywhere, especially the leading brethren of the Reform Movement gave the same testimony in word and in writing. Consequently, as early as April 29, 1936, the Seventh-day Adventist Reform Movement was outlawed. We reproduce the letter to Elder Welp, which read as follows:

The Political Police Commander of the Countries Prussian Secret State Police Berlin SW 11, April 29, 1936  B.-Nr. II 1 B 1-S. 213/36 To Mr Otto Welp Bad Godesberg  Rheinalee 56 II  In accordance with Section 1 of the People's Ordinance of the Reich's President for the protection of the people and the state of February 28, 1933 (Reich's Law Publication I, p.83), the sect "Seventh-day Adventist Reform Movement" is herewith dissolved and prohibited in the whole of the German Reich. Their property is confiscated. Actions contrary to this ordinance will be punished in accordance with Section 4 of the People's Ordinance of February 28, 1933. Reasons: The "Seventh-day Adventist Reform Movement" pursues goals under the cover of religious activities that are contrary to the world vision of National Socialism. The members of this sect refuse to perform military service and give the German salute. They openly declare that they know no Fatherland but are internationally oriented and regard all men as their brethren. Because the stand of this sect is liable to create confusion among the population, its dissolution was necessary for the protection of people and state.




The president of our East German Union, Brother Johann Hanselmann, who lived at that time in Saxony, near Dresden, was arrested in September of 1936. Based on the decision of September 29, 1939, the Attorney General ruled that the trial against him was to be at the cost of the state. Nevertheless he was further held in custody in the police prison at Dresden.

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The Secret State Police had decreed the following on January 27, 1937:

"In connection with the drives against the leaders and ministers, as well as colporteurs, of the Reformed Church of the Seventh-day Adventists, the current leader for  East Germany, Johannes Hanselmann, born 5/1/1892 in Frankeberg (Wuerttemberg), last living at Langebrueck (Dresden County), Adolf Hitler Street 9, has also been taken into custody for investigation under 16Js 2796/36." 

On March 23, 1937, the Attorney General and Chief of the prosecution for the special court of Saxony at Freiburg issued a warrant for the arrest of Hanselmann, Johann Georg, Minister. He was accused as follows:

"He drove through the following territories with his car – Saxony, Brandenburg, Pomerania, Silesia, and East Prussia – visited the followers of this sect, held Bible studies, celebrated the Lord's Supper according to the rite of the prohibited sect, and accepted monies that had been gathered." Also the accused says that because of his religious conviction he avoids worldly discussion as a matter of principle and at every occasion gives a free and open testimony for God's Word as written in the Bible." 

These were the "crimes" of which Brother Hanselmann was accused. For this reason he was put in prison at Dresden until October 2, 1937. As a faithful shepherd, he served the flock entrusted to him in the midst of all dangers and obstacles, gave them the "bread of life", and strengthened them in the faith, impressing upon them that "through many trials we must enter into the kingdom of God."  Shortly after this, he was again arrested. At Halle/Saale the second trial against him was begun. The accusation read as follows:

"The accused was formerly a minister of the sect of the 'Seventh-day Adventist Reform Movement,' which was prohibited in all of the Reich by decree of the Assistant Chief of the Secret Police on April 29, 1936. This sect, with its headquarters at Isernhagen, separated from the large Seventh-day Adventist Church in 1914, because the Adventists, against their principles of faith, have given their followers permission to do military service. The Reformers were of the opinion that the Adventists were not authorized to give their members this permission. The contrast between Adventists and Reformers became still greater after the national revolution. While the followers of the Seventh-day Adventist Church placed themselves without exception behind the National Socialist Government, gave

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the German salute, took their children to the National Socialist organizations, and performed military service, the adherents of the Reform maintained their old principles of faith. Under cover of a religious movement, they pursue goals that are contrary to the world vision of national Socialism. Therefore they refuse to do any military service, do not greet with the German salute, do not support the national Socialist organizations, such as NSV, RLB, and WHW, and are internationally oriented, because they know no fatherland but regard all people as their brethren.  "The Reformers take the view that they can obey a law only insofar as it does not contradict the Bible, because they are to obey God rather than men." 

The reasons given in this document of accusation as quoted above show clearly that the leading brethren of the Seventh-day Adventist Reform Movement were not willing to deny the doctrine of peace as found in the gospel, which is valid for all nations; they would no deny it even when they were persecuted, imprisoned, and executed for their stand. The good shepherd goes before his sheep as a good example, for what would become of the sheep if they were left without protection in the midst of ravenous wolves? Alas, it was just in this regard that the leading clergy of the nominal Christians and the responsible men of the great Advent Movement failed, as is unmistakably shown in the above writ of accusation. Later, in the main session of the special court at Halle/Saale, several brothers and sisters of the Seventh-day Adventist Reform Movement were brought forward as co-defendants and also as witnesses against Brother Hanselmann. He was sentenced to two years' imprisonment. Also the court costs were given him to pay.  When the two-year term ended, his pocket watch and some personal belongings were sent to his wife. In a letter, Brother Hanselmann wrote very briefly:

"Now the worst is yet to come. I am being transported to the concentration camp of Sachsenhausen." 

Johann Hanselmann

About the middle of May 1942, his wife received the report that her husband had fallen sick of dysentery and died in the concentration camp. That was the last official notice. A prisoner who was in the concentration camp at Sachsenhausen later reported that Brother Hanselmann had refused to go to work on Sabbath morning, and therefore he was pulled up by his hands, which were tied behind his back, and this caused him to choke to death.  So this faithful gospel servant's life ended as he fought for the present truth. He did not forsake the souls that were in his care but served them, surrounded by many dangers and much suffering, and was faithful until death. We should be thankful to God that He has given us such conscientious men as shepherds of His flock for an example.*To continue this report, further testimonies of Twentieth Century martyrs who had to seal their faith with death follow.

"They Loved Not Their Lives Unto Death"

Brother Golanczik, 51 years old Brother Golanczik was employed by a coal dealer and delivered coal to customers.  One Friday in November 1943, he was driving his coal truck, and shortly before sunset he was supposed to deliver yet another load; but he refused to transgress the Sabbath commandment and be unfaithful to his God. This was reported to the secret police, and he was called to answer for his deed. He declared that he could not violate his conscience and

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transgress the fourth commandment. As a result, he was taken to a detention camp, where he had to endure much pain and torture. Again and again he was summoned to work on the Sabbath, which he refused to do. Finally, after he was tortured many times in the concentration camp, he was thrown into water which was at freezing temperatures and then pulled out again. This was repeated over and over again until death finally freed him from such suffering.


Stanislav Rohloff 


Brother Stanislav Rohloff, 50 years old Brother Rohloff was president of the work in Poland. He was a tailor by trade and was known as a just man. He was loved by all his fellow believers because of his sincere devotion and his self-sacrificing labour for the flock which was entrusted to him. In 1944, he was arrested by the secret police and delivered to Mauthausen concentration camp, where he was tortured to death. Brother Bogdan Rohloff, 21 years old shortly after the father was arrested, the Gestapo also took the son to the same camp where his father was. Young Brother Rohloff was also a tailor by trade and worked in a ready-to-wear tailor shop. The Gestapo demanded that he also work on Sabbath, which he refused to do. He determined to remain faithful to his confession of faith and declared: "I will not yield one inch." Then he was beaten half to death and thrown out in the courtyard, where he lay semi-conscious. As he lay there so helpless, not far from death, his father happened to pass by, recognized him, and encouraged him to endure. They poured coldwater over him to revive him, and again and again he was questioned and examined by the Gestapo, whether or not he would be willing to work on the Sabbath. He consistently refused. Thereupon he was transported to the Dachau concentration camp, where he had to endure many trials. However, he was liberated by the Americans when they rapidly took over. Sick and diseased, he returned home.*Brother Tomasz Slachetka, 51 years old In 1944, our dear brother and father Slachetka was arrested at the age of 51. He worked for a construction firm and was forced to work on Sabbath, even though he made up his lost hours on Sunday. His employer told him that the Gestapo would come and see for themselves whether he would work on the Sabbath. Consequently, when Brother Slachetka

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did not go to work on Sabbath, he was picked up the following Monday by the Gestapo. He was taken into a camp, where he was tortured terribly because he steadfastly refused to work on Sabbath. A basket lined with barbed wire was placed over him and he had to crouch naked under this basket. The other prisoners were forced to jump over this basket, which only a few could do. Often he had to spend entire nights under the basket, and during the day he was forced to work. After repeatedly refusing to work on the Sabbath, on one particular Sabbath,

Thomasz Slachetka

they hung two sandbags on him – one in the front and one in the back – and then they chased him with a whip until he collapsed. When this brother continued to remain faithful to God and his confession of faith, he was taken to the Grossrosen concentration camp. In this camp, the most horrible and cruel tortures were inflicted upon him. But Brother Slachetka remained firm, and also in this camp he refused to work on the Sabbath. His son, Aleksy Slachetka, was brought to this same camp for the same reasons. The elder Brother Slachetka was then undressed, bound, and cast into the courtyard. His son had to watch while the father was cruelly tortured as Kapo (policeman) jumped on his chest until it collapsed. Brother Slachetka was mercifully delivered in death from the torture of such indescribably pain.  Brother Aleksy Slachetka, 21 years old; This young brother worked for the same construction company as his father. The same Monday that his father was arrested, the son was also picked up by the Gestapo, because he too had refused to work on the Sabbath. He had to suffer the same tortures that were inflicted upon his father. One Sabbath, as he again refused to work, he was put in a dark cellar, which was filled to the height of his knees with corroding excrement mixed with chemicals. Four days and nights he had to remain there without bread or water. When he was taken out of this cellar, he was forced to walk back to his barracks and then received a piece of bread. On the way, he met a fellow prisoner who had to go to the cellar for seven days. Brother Slachetka gave his fellow sufferer his piece of bread; however, he received a small piece of bread from the other prisoners in the camp, so his mercy was rewarded. Back in the camp, he discovered that the flesh fell off his bones, and he was no longer able to work. Then he was taken to the Grossrosen concentration camp, where he had to remain until November in his sick condition. However, because this camp had no gas chambers, he was transported with other sick people to Dachau; the journey lasted 14 days. They were transported in a closed cattle car. But young Brother Slachetka did not reach Dachau. On the way, he and many other inmates, overcome by the terrible tortures and hunger, died.

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Sister Bronislawa Slachetka, 23 years old Brother and Sister Slachetka's daughter worked in a state nursery. On February 10,1944, she was arrested by the Gestapo because she refused to work on the Sabbath. She was imprisoned in the same camp where her father and brother were at first. From there she was transported to the concentration camp at Ravensbrueck. Again in this camp she fought for the Sabbath and remained firm and faithful to her God and to the faith committed to her. She was taken into a punishment cell block and was told that if she could stand all the punishment given her there she would get the Sabbath free. The Lord gave her grace, and she did get Sabbath free. But she was not released from the camp. Instead, she was taken with other  prisoners in a cattle car past Berlin into Russia and another camp. Only a few reached the destination. Many were taken starved or frozen from the car. But sister Slachetka was supported by God's grace, and the Lord gave her strength. Because the front came closer and closer, the prisoners had to march 30 kilometres every day until the liberation came on May 8, 1945. The Lord gave this sister grace so that she could survive all this and tell others that the Lord has done great things for her.  

Sister Maria Slachetka;  One of the greatest martyrs was the mother of the Slachetka family. She was forced to give up her husband and breadwinner, son, and daughter. Often she was taken from her home by the Gestapo, interrogated, and exhorted that she should encourage her husband and children to work on the Sabbath, for then she would get them back. But she would rather see them face death than encourage them to fall away from their faith. Therefore she answered, "They are old enough; let them decide for themselves." Until her life's end, she remained a faithful Reformer for her God. Her heartfelt wish on her deathbed was that her remaining children would be as faithful to God as were her husband and her son.

*Brother Victor Pacha, 26 years old Victor Pacha received his draft call to military service in 1941. Because it was his conviction that he should be faithful to God's commandments and the testimony of Jesus Christ, he refused to enter military service. He was taken to prison at Breslau. From here he was transported to Halle/Saale, and there he met a good friend and brother in the faith, Guenther Pietz. Shortly before that, in Breslau, a minister from the large Adventist Church(Gomolla) was sent to him, and this man asked him, "Brother, what are you doing here?  We are in Egypt and not yet in Canaan, and we must bend under the staff." But Brother Pacha rejected this counsel and remained firm.

*Brother Guenther Pietz:  In 1941, Guenther Pietz, whom we just mentioned previously, was taken to Camp Auschwitz because of his refusal to work on the Sabbath. He was 16 or 17 years old when he was arrested. In the camp, he had to work hard and fought for the Sabbath. After six weeks he was released for a short time. His parents, brothers and sisters did not recognize him; they all cried when they saw the thin young man. For about one year he was able to rejoice in freedom, but then he was drafted for the labour service, where he remained for three weeks. During this time, he visited believers, strengthened himself, and rejoiced with them in the truth.

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Guenther Pietz 

Then he received a draft call for the military service and was taken to Halle, where he met Brother Pacha, his good friend and fellow believer. Both took up the battle and refused to do military service. At the command of Himmler, both Brother Victor Pacha and Brother Guenther Pietz were shot to death on one day because of their faithful endurance. Both were good friends in life and in death, and both remained firm in their confession of faith.  Here are two letters from Guenther Pietz to his parents:

W.U.G. Berlin-Tegel Seidelstrasse 39, Abtg. 10Tegel, August 15, 1943 Aktz. 1 164/43 R. K. G.

 Dear Parents! The peace of the Lord be with you! I can now report to you that up to this hour I am healthy in body and soul. That which you sent me I received with much joy on the 4th of this month. Your letter, which likewise made me very happy, I received a day later. And now, dear Parents, I must tell you. I know that this will be sad news for you; it is that I appeared before the court on August 6.You can imagine what was spoken there. In any case, I have spoken the words, which the Lord has put in my mouth. The judgment that was pronounced over me was the death sentence. And now, dear father and Mother, I ask that you not shed one tear for my sake; for the hope, love and happiness which I had before I left home I still have now. And when sadness creeps up on me, I pray, as the publican did, "Lord, be merciful unto me, a sinner." Who will stand before God? Only he who has a pure heart. Therefore, dear parents, please forgive me for all the things that were not right which I did in my youth. Because of the death sentence, I do not allow myself to dwell on discouraging thoughts, for I know the Lord is with me; I have never had such peace and rest in my heart as just in these last days. My prayer is still that the Lord will change the hearts of the government. I forgot to write in my last letter about visiting. First, you must have permission from the war tribunal. Second, it doesn't make sense to travel such a great distance in order to speak with me for just a few minutes. It is my wish that we will be inseparable on the earth made new. This is all I have to report right now; I expect a reply from you. Do not worry, dear Parents. Before the execution, I will have another court session. And in case I am not able to write any more, then these should be my last greetings to you, dear Father and Mother, and also at the same time to my sister. Do not forget to give my best greetings to all the dear ones in the Lord. The Lord be with you all.



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 Dear Parents! 

Halle, September 27, 1943 

The peace of God be with you as a greeting! I thank you for your letter and the postcard, which I have received from Posen. It made me very happy. Until this moment I am well physically and spiritually. Right now I am at Halle, where the execution is to take place. I know that this will be a very sad tiding for you. Do not weep for me; I will be well taken care of. When our Saviour comes to redeem us, we shall rejoice. And it is my wish, dear parents, to see you there. Nothing should  separate us from the love of God. May the Lord forgive us all the sins we have committed in our lives. Him only can we exalt and praise. Send my little sister heartfelt greetings in the Lord. (Note: This sister was at the time in an educational institution, because the parents did not send her to school on the Sabbath.) In this last letter I wish you, dear parents, God's richest blessings and everything good. Remain faithful to the Lord, for he will one day bring us into the blessed rest and joy and glory. .My very best greetings! Give them also to all relatives and acquaintances. They also should not lose their faith in our Lord. Especially hearty greetings and kisses I am sending to Alexe. Even though our last days of companionship were short, yet they were a source of great joy for me. Also heartfelt greetings and kisses for Bogdan. Yes, I love all brothers and sisters very much. This is all I have to write. And right now I send my cordial greetings and kisses to you, my dear Father and my dear Mother, and also to my sister. 

Greetings to you once more.

Your son Guenther 

Alfred Muench

Anton Brugger